Sip and Savor the Americas: 6 Must-Try Food Travel Tours

November 13, 2019 |

Sip and Savor the Americas: 6 Must-Try Food Travel Tours

Food travel has become a popular way to see the world. One needs only look at the explosion of Travel Channel food shows to see that. 

Our experienced advisors love helping travelers combine their love for food and travel into unforgettable culinary travel experiences. Culinary travel trends and feedback from our front line advisors show food tour bookings are on the rise across North and South America. 

If you’re interested in planning a food travel experience in the Americas, here are our top six must-try food travel tours.

 

Top 6 Must-Try Food Travel Tours in North and South America

Food tourism combines historical sights and points of interest with unforgettably delicious local cuisine. That’s part of why food travel is so popular right now. If you want to see and savor some of the best sights in the Americas, these top food travel tours won’t disappoint. 

 

1. Magical New Mexico

Sip and Savor the Americas: 6 Must-Try Food Travel Tours

Experience the land of magic in an entirely new way by eating your way through the historic and cultural high points of Santa Fe. The Historic Plaza food tour offers everything from street tacos that put Santa Fe’s chilies front and center to wine tastings, margaritas and ice cream. Yum!

 

2. Indulgent Ithaca, New York

Sip and Savor the Americas: 6 Must-Try Food Travel Tours

Chances are you’ve been to New York City before, but a food travel tour in Ithaca offers a more obscure, yet equally appealing aspect of New York. Try natural food at Moosewood Restaurant, eat Ethiopian food and visit a vegan Star-Trek themed cafe. 

 

3. Authentic Austin, Texas

Sip and Savor the Americas: 6 Must-Try Food Travel Tours

If you haven’t tried authentic Texas barbecue, you need to plan a food travel trip to Austin, Texas. This vibrant college town has music, culture, arts and amazing food. Plan to make room for breakfast tacos, brunch, beer and of course, barbecue. 

 

4. Scrumptious Sao Paulo, Brazil

Sip and Savor the Americas: 6 Must-Try Food Travel Tours

North America doesn’t have the market cornered on tantalizing food travel spots. Brazil’s Sao Paulo is home to some of the best black bean and pork stew, which locals call feijoada, as well as a host of other local delicacies. If you plan a food tour to Sao Paulo, save room for tordesihas soup and buchada (think Brazilian haggis) and make time for a trip to the Mercado, Sao Paulo’s municipal market.

 

5. Epicurean Ecuador

Sip and Savor the Americas: 6 Must-Try Food Travel Tours

Some food travelers overlook Ecuador for more well-known food travel hot spots in Cartagena and Buenos Aires, but you shouldn’t. Wholesome, home-cooked meals abound here. Try encebollado soup, vegetarian fanesca, or llapingacho, unbelievably delicious fried potato cakes with peanut butter.

 

6. Perfectly Palatable Peru

Sip and Savor the Americas: 6 Must-Try Food Travel Tours

The country that gave the world the incredible Inca civilization continues to give with cooking that satisfies the senses and delights the palate. Cuy (cooked guinea pig), solterito (corn and chili salad), anticuchos (beef skewers) and lomo saltado (beef stir fry) are just a few of the tantalizing options that await you on a food travel tour in Peru. 

 

This list of top food travel tours barely scratches the surface of food and travel experiences in the Americas. Contact our experienced travel advisors now to start planning a culinary travel experience tailored to your unique tastes.

The World on Your Plate: Why People Love Food Travel

November 6, 2019 |

Food Travel — What It Is and Why People Love It

Culinary travel is on the rise, in part because food is one of the best ways to experience culture. Food travel, or food tourism as some call it, has become a popular lens through which to see the world. If you’ve always made a point to try local cuisine when you travel, a food travel vacation could be one of the most enjoyable trips you’ll ever take.

 

What is Food Travel?

Whether you call it food travel, food tourism, or culinary travel the idea is the same — food travel revolves around local dishes. Or, as Erik Wolf of the World Food Travel Association puts it, “Food tourism is the act of traveling for a taste of place in order to get a sense of place.”

If you’ve watched one of the many Travel Channel food shows, you know how dishes can vary from place to place, and how much they can reveal about the locale where they are made.

At Travel and Transport, our travel advisors have seen an increase in the number of food travel vacations they plan for people. Travelers have changed from making culinary travel experiences part of their vacations to entire vacations planned around food travel. 

 

Culinary Travel Trends

Our experience mirrors that of culinary travel trends reported by the World Food Travel Association and in Skift’s Rise of Culinary Tourism report. In a survey conducted by the former, more than half of all respondents said they take pictures of food when they travel and 61 percent share those photos on their social media accounts. 

Other interesting food travel findings include:

  • 52% of culinary travelers are Gen Xers and Millennials; 48% are Boomers
  • The most important factors for people who value food travel are that the food be authentic, eclectic, local and social.
  • Culinary travel accounts for 47% of American leisure travel

 

What Does Food Travel Look Like?

Activities our travel advisors plan for food travelers include the following unique experiences:

  • Cooking school visits 
  • Food tours
  • Shopping trips to local markets and grocers to buy and learn to prepare local dishes
  • Dining experiences at unique or memorable local establishments
  • Tours and tastings of unique wine, beer and spirits producers
  • Visits to chocolatiers, bakeries and gelaterias

We look for off-the-beaten-path culinary experiences tailored to our travelers’ personal interests and tastes. Doing so helps us plan unforgettable food travel vacations.

Are you interested in food travel? Let us help you plan a once-in-a-lifetime gastronomic getaway! Contact our experienced food travel advisors now!

Hot Tropics: 6 Exotic Caribbean Cruise Destinations

October 29, 2019 |

Hot Tropics: 6 Exotic Caribbean Cruise Destinations

A Caribbean cruise is often the first cruise a person takes. This topical region of the world is known for white sand beaches, colorful sea life, friendly cultures and relaxed island life. 

If you’re thinking about taking a Caribbean cruise, our experienced travel advisors can help you escape the ordinary with a Caribbean cruise itinerary featuring one or more of these exotic Caribbean cruise destinations. 

 

6 Exotic Caribbean Cruise Destinations

After knowing when the best time to go on a Caribbean cruise is, where to go is the most important factor of planning a Caribbean cruise vacation. December through April is the best time to go on a Caribbean cruise. While you might save money cruising during hurricane season, it’s important to know that there is a risk. 

Caribbean cruise lines of every type visit Caribbean cruise ports. From family-friendly Disney Cruise Line to the upscale, luxurious Seabourn Cruise Line to industry stalwarts like Royal Caribbean International, Princess Cruises and Holland America Cruise Line, there’s no shortage of cruise lines visiting the Caribbean.

With so many options to choose from, sometimes the best place to start is to narrow down where you which Caribbean cruise ports you most want to explore. Here are our picks for best Caribbean cruise destinations.

 

1. Barbados

If you love to snorkel or want to try surfing in the Caribbean, Barbados is a perfect port to visit. Situated on the eastern edge of the Caribbean, Barbados boasts wave breaks and rugged coastlines you won’t find in other parts of the Caribbean. With over 200 sunken shipwrecks near the island, this is one exotic stop worth exploring.

 

2. Bonaire

One of the so-called ABC islands (Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao), Bonaire is excellent for outdoor adventure. The preserved coral reef at Bonaire National Marine Park is worth a visit, as is an expedition to Washington Slagbaai National Park where you can observe more than 200 species of birds. 

 

3. Dominican Republic

Specifically, visit Puerto Plata. This fantastic port of call is home to the Ocean World adventure park, where you can swim with dolphins and sharks as well as play in a world class water park. First class shopping and movie trivia are here as well; an amber museum pays tribute to the home of the amber featured in Jurassic Park

 

4. St. Kitts

Do you love history? If so, put St. Kits on your list. This Caribbean destination is ideal for hiking, relaxing and visiting relics from the 1700s when the island was a British colony. Enhance your experience with a quick ferry ride over to St. Nevis to see the birthplace of Alexander Hamilton.

 

5. Jamaica

Specifically, Ocho Rios. While this classic cruise port, may not be one of the Caribbean’s newest destinations, it is the gateway to Mystic Mountain and Dunn River Falls, both worth seeing on any visit to Jamaica.

 

6. St. Barth

Bigger isn’t always better, and St. Barth proves that. A smaller ship will ferry you to this exotic Caribbean island where you can experience French-Caribbean life. Stylish boutiques, charming restaurants and sandy beaches make this an ideal getaway.

Looking for a Caribbean cruise that doesn’t disappoint? Let our experienced travel advisors plan the getaway of a lifetime for you! Call us today to get started planning your Caribbean cruise vacation.

Asia Cruises — An Exotic Way to Experience the Far East

October 23, 2019 |

Asia Cruises — An Exotic Way to Experience the Far East

For millennia, the Far East seemed closed to the western world. Today, Asia is an international destination for business and leisure. Asia cruises are an increasingly popular way to experience China, Japan and South Korea. 

Southeast Asia cruises ferry travelers between Singapore and Hong Kong, and often include stops at exotic beaches and ports of call in Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam.

If you want to see Asia and think a cruise might be right for you, here’s what you need to know!

 

Asia Cruises: Could One be Right for You?

If you’re interested in an Asia cruise, you’ve likely cruised before, perhaps enjoying the luxury and leisure of a Caribbean cruise, Mediterranean cruise or Alaskan cruise. Asia cruises offer similar conveniences:

  • Only needing to pack and unpack once
  • Pools, lounges, restaurants and activities
  • Opportunity to visit multiple port cities
  • Entertainment and specialty dining options

While many particulars are the same between Asia cruises, European cruises and other types of cruises, there are a few things unique about cruising around Asia.

 

The Best Time to Take an Asia Cruise

Similar to hurricane season in the Caribbean, there is a best time to take an Asia cruise — during its dry season. Late spring and summer tend to be the best months for Asia cruises. Typhoon season runs from July to October, so cruising to Asia during those months is best done on a river cruise.

 

Asia Cruise Destinations and Excursions

Like other cruise itineraries, Asia cruises may revolve around various ports of call. From world wonders like the Great Wall of China to ancient temples in Taiwan, culture, arts, entertainment, shopping, history and architecture abound across Asia. 

Both ancient civilizations and thriving modern cultures coexist in Asia. Possible stops could include the following:

Cruise to Japan

There are more than 15 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Kyoto alone. Temples and shrines feature lovely gardens and vibrant parks backset against towering majestic mountain peaks and serene lakes. Other sights include Tokyo and Mt. Fuji.

Cruise to China

No cruise to China would be complete without a visit to the Great Wall. Working with an experienced travel advisor can help you make sure you have everything you need (including a Chinese passport) to see this world wonder. Other compelling sights on a cruise to China include stops at the Forbidden City and the Suzhou gardens.

Cruise to Hong Kong

While flying might be the first mode of transportation that comes to mind when you think of visiting Hong Kong, don’t overlook a cruise as a way to see this stunning location. Sights to see when you’re not at sea include Victoria Peak and Kowloon. 

 

Set Your Asia Cruise in Motion

Our experienced travel advisors know the region well and can tailor an Asia cruise itinerary to fit your personal travel goals. We start with what you want to see and pair that with the type of amenities and kind of cruising experience you’re looking for to find the ideal cruise for you.

River Cruises or Ocean Cruises: Which is Right for You?

October 16, 2019 |

River Cruises or Ocean Cruises: Which is Right for You?

If you’ve cruised before, it was likely on an ocean cruise. While Caribbean cruises, Alaskan cruises and Mediterranean cruises remain some of the most common types of cruises, river cruises are becoming popular with travelers.

If you’re wondering what makes river cruises different from other types of cruises, we’ll aim to answer your questions here. 

 

River Cruises vs. Ocean Cruises: What Stands Out

From European river cruises to those ferrying passengers across Asia and North and South America, river cruises are quickly becoming popular with travelers. More cruisers are choosing them as ways to see parts of the world where larger cruise liners can’t go. 

River cruises offer many of the amenities of ocean cruises and add the ability to visit smaller ports of call into which large ships can’t dock. All of the following are potential features of a river cruise:

  • Pools
  • Lounges
  • Spas
  • Specialty dining
  • Entertainment
  • Exotic ports of call in harder to reach or remote destinations

While they won’t feature the endless activities and options that ocean cruises do, they do offer the conveniences of cruising, such as only have to pack and unpack once, and visiting multiple cities with itineraries and transportation pre-arranged and planned for you.

 

How River Cruises are Different

There are some critical differences you should know about before you set sail on a river cruise. 

  • River cruise ships are smaller, typically carrying 200 or fewer passengers.
  • River cruise cabins are smaller.
  • Buffets, rather than restaurants are the norm on river cruises.
  • River cruise entertainment is present, but not as flashy or grand. Instead of a chorus line or entire bands, you may enjoy a piano soloist, comedian or karaoke.
  • There are few sea days, making itineraries more port or land-focused. 

While you can’t hide in a crowd on a river cruise, you can have a more intimate experience, including the possibility of making lifelong friends on a specialty cruise with people who share similar interests. 

 

How Excursions Differ on a River Cruise

River cruises tend to feature excursions that are more culturally-focused or specifically tailored to the ports of call being visited. Walking tours with experienced guides are a hallmark of a river cruise. Instead of buses, bazaars and beaches, you’ll encounter culture, architecture and local cafes.

Another difference is that tours tend to start earlier in the day and are closer to town centers. These factors allow you to truly take in more of a port city than you would typically find on a large cruise liner.

 

River Cruises vs. Ocean Cruises: The Bottom Line

River cruises offer the best of both worlds when it comes to cruising. As a passenger, you’ll enjoy the convenience of cruising with the intimacy and culture-focus of a land tour. If you’re hungry to experience local cultures in destinations across Europe, Asia, North and South America, a river cruise may be right for you.

Our experienced travel advisors help people plan amazing cruise vacations every day. They can help you determine whether a river or ocean cruise is best for you. Contact us now to start planning your next getaway!

From Alaskan Cruises to Antarctica, Voyages are a Way to See the World

October 2, 2019 |

From Alaskan cruises to South American cruises to cruises to Antarctica, there are more ways to set sail than ever before. Here, we highlight the world of intriguing North and South America cruising options available to travelers. 

alaskan cruise

Why Cruise? How Setting Sail Makes for a Great Getaway

Before diving into the various cruising options out there, it’s worth reviewing what makes cruising attractive to so many travelers. 

  • Cruises are great for people of all ages.
  • Voyages provide fantastic value, fun and entertainment.
  • They offer an ideal blend of excitement and relaxation.
  • Cruises are an excellent way to introduce yourself to international destinations you may want to visit exclusively on a future trip.

That last point is worth expanding on; whether you want to take a cruise to Antarctica, follow in Charles Darwin’s steps with a Galapagos cruise, venture into the heart of darkness on an Amazon river cruise or see the world on a transatlantic cruise, sea voyages are a great way to see the world. 

Every port of call offers an opportunity to encounter new cultures and landscapes. Best of all, once you’re aboard and unpacked, you’re ready to go. Your connections are handled, food is provided and entertainment and activity options are at your beck and call. 

Even at sea, cruise ships abound with new and exciting activities, including:

  • Classes
  • Shopping
  • Shows
  • Games
  • Gyms, pools and spas
  • Rock climbing walls, surfriders, waterslides and more
  • Movie theaters, live entertainment, bars and eateries

From hourly activities, to a leisurely day of sunbathing or snoozing by the pool, cruises accommodate every style and preference. Depending on what kind of experience you want, you can be one of many cruisers aboard a floating metropolis, or one of an intimate group of travelers sailing the rivers of the world.

Alaskan Cruises, New England Cruises, South America Cruises and More

Once you begin browsing the ocean of options available to would-be cruisers today, you’ll quickly see there’s a cruise for just about every destination and an experience to satisfy nearly every itinerary.

When it comes to visiting North and South America, Alaskan cruises, New England cruises and South America cruises abound with choices. Virtuoso Voyages offer a collection of the best cruise experiences in the world, with add-ons and options that make ideal vacations. Some of the exclusive amenities our experienced travel advisors book include:

  • Private car and driver in port
  • Behind-the-scenes tours
  • Specialty dining options
  • Shipboard and spa treatment credits
  • Custom and private shore tours

For history buffs, New England cruises are an unforgettable way to experience colonial America and retrace the ports and places present during the revolutionary period. Alaskan cruises put amazing views of glaciers, whales and other wildlife within reach; Canadian river cruises are a unique way to discover the waters of North America. 

If sailing south sounds sweet, an Amazon river cruise won’t disappoint. See the tip of the world with a cruise to Antarctica, or discover the ancient ruins of the Incas on a South America cruise. 

Whatever is on your bucket list, a cruise is a wonderful way to see it. Get help planning the cruise of a lifetime with Virtuoso. Contact one of our travel advisors to start turning your travel dreams into reality.

European Cruises and European River Cruises: Five Great Options

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European Cruises and European River Cruises: Five Great Options

The most difficult aspect of European cruises is deciding which part of Europe you want to see. European cruises can be broken down into two main types: Mediterranean cruises and European river cruises.

Here, we share some of the best European cruises for travelers to consider. 

 

European Cruises and European River Cruises: Five Great Options

What makes European cruises so appealing is their variety. A western Mediterranean cruise takes you to cities like Barcelona, Rome and Monaco. Eastern Mediterranean cruises meanwhile, expose you to ports of call that include Croatia, Greece, Turkey and Israel. 

 

1. See the Greek Isles on an Eastern Mediterranean Cruise.

If you loved Mamma Mia or have a burning desire to sip a glance of wine by the sea in Santorini, an eastern Mediterranean cruise can take you there. Choose from larger ships that visit ports along the coast or take a smaller cruise line into the heart of the Greek Islands. 

 

2. Explore England with a European River Cruise.

Some of the best European cruises are river cruises that begin and end in the British Isles. From Southampton to London to the cliffs of Dover, a British Isles cruise is a great way to experience the castles, coasts and cities of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales.

 

3. Discover Hidden Gems on a Western Mediterranean Cruise.

A western Mediterranean cruise is an excellent way to explore ports of call that might not be tourist hotspots, but do allow for a less crowded experience of western Europe. Ports of call may include Vigo in Spain, Brest in France, Le Havre in Amsterdam, Bruges in Belgium, and Hamburg in Germany.

 

4. Sail Norwegian Fjords.

A northern European river cruise is a great way to let go of the ordinary and experience the breathtaking waterfalls and inlets of this water-loving land. From metropolitan centers like Oslo to more remote ports like Bergen, Alesund and Olden, you can enjoy everything from hiking a glacier to eating whale meat for breakfast.

 

5. Sail Across the Sea on a Canary Islands Cruise

Start in the U.K. or Spain and sail across the sea to the Canary Islands, a Spanish archipelago, nestled off the coast of Africa. There, visit exotic islands like Tenerife, Lanzarote, Gran Canaria, La Palma and Madeira.  

 

Let an Experienced Travel Advisor Plan Your European Cruise

Whether you want to float down the rivers of Europe or explore historical sights along the Mediterranean Sea, our experienced travel advisors are here to help you plan the European vacation of a lifetime. 

Contact us today to start planning your next getaway!

Top Overseas Adventure Travel Tours and Destinations

September 25, 2019 |

overseas adventure travel tours and destinations

Does your idea of a dream vacation involve traveling to remote or exotic destinations where you can challenge yourself physically while exploring cultures different than your own? 

Does experiencing this type of trip with a small group of like-minded people sound even better than going it solo?

If so, overseas adventure travel tours may provide the ideal getaway for you. 

 

Could overseas adventure travel tours be right for you?

Our experienced travel advisors help people plan unforgettable adventure trips all the time and know which destinations and adventure travel tour groups provide the best experience for each traveler. 

Whether or not you’ll enjoy an overseas adventure travel tour depends on what you’re looking for in a vacation. If you answer ‘yes’ to these questions, adventure travel could be right for you:

  • Do you think of nature as a playground?
  • Do you enjoy getting dirty, sweaty and physically spent?
  • Do you feel restored, refreshed or rejuvenated after hiking, rock climbing, mountain biking or trail running?
  • Does a certain amount of uncertainty excite you?
  • Do you value stepping outside your daily routine and culture to reflect on life?

If you agree with Mark Twain, who wrote, “What is it that confers the noblest delight? …Discovery! To know that you are walking where none others have walked; that you are beholding what human eye has not see before; that you are breathing a virgin atmosphere,” then you may be an adventurer at heart.

 

Top Overseas Adventure Travel Tours and Destinations

Adventure travel tours spark wonder and satisfy the craving for discovery by connecting wanderlust with opportunities to exercise it. These adventure travel tours and destinations are some of the best options for adventurers:

  • G Adventures — Travel advisor JoAnna Gonseth shared about her incredible experience exploring Peru with this top overseas adventure travel tour company.
  • Remote Lands — From private jet trips to niche-focused itineraries, Remote Lands is one of the best ways to explore Asia and beyond. 
  • Quark Expeditions — Specializing in Artic and Antarctic adventures, Quark is your ticket to exploring unforgettable fjords, glaciers and wildlife in some of the most extreme environments on earth.  

 

Top Overseas Adventure Travel Destinations

We’ve talked about adventure destinations on the blog before and offered a number of excellent options that include:

This list just scratches the surface. The best way to make sure you choose the right destination for your adventure travel tour is to work with an experienced travel advisor who understands your goals and preferences and can design the perfect vacation to meet them.

Planning an adventure travel vacation? Let us help you find the ideal escorted tour company to explore your overseas adventure travel dreams. Contact us today to start planning!

Escorted Travel Tours — Are They Right for You?

September 18, 2019 |

Escorted Travel Tours — Are They Right For You?

Travel Advisors Discuss the Benefits of Escorted Travel Tours

 

For many travelers, escorted travel tours, or group travel tours, are popular and satisfying ways to see the world, but how can you know if an escorted tour is right for you? We asked our experienced travel advisors to weigh in on the best-escorted tour companies and the benefits of group travel tours.

Elsewhere, we defined what escorted tours are and talked about some of the benefits of guided group travel. We shared that escorted tours led by knowledgeable local guides deliver an immersive experience that make travelers feel less like tourists and more like global citizens.

Here, we’re diving deeper into the topic of escorted travel tours to understand what kind of travelers they’re best for and what makes them shine. Two of our experienced travel advisors, Kim Gahm (Northern California) and Naomi Sucha (Omaha, Nebraska HQ), share who escorted tours are right for and how they find the best escorted tour companies for customers. 

 

Who are escorted travel tours best for?

According to both Kim and Naomi, almost anyone! Couples, solo travelers, and families can all benefit from an escorted tour — the true benefit of this type of trip is that it’s hassle-free with almost everything included, which holds broad appeal.

Naomi also noted that travelers looking for an in-depth experience, easy transfers between different locations, and the opportunity to meet new people along the way might be interested in escorted tours.  

 

What do you look for in a top escorted tour company?

While it depends on the wants, needs and budget of the traveler, Naomi advises the important things to pay attention to include the itinerary — does it fit what you’re looking for? How much sightseeing is included? — how large the group is, and how many meals are included.

Kim adds that the number of companies out there are practically endless — in other words, there’s something for just about every client’s needs, whether you’re a solo traveler, budget-minded, looking for luxury, traveling with your family or a group, or interested in trends such as adventure travel or ecotourism. 

 

Where are the best destinations for escorted or group travel tours?

Naomi didn’t limit her answer to just one destination. “I think everywhere!” she said.

And while the destination opportunities really are endless, Kim provided a couple of go-to spots that are popular with travelers who enjoy these kinds of travel tours.

“Anywhere you would like to go to be immersed in the local culture,” she said. “Europe, South America, Asia, Australia, Africa, India. There are even great escorted tours closer to home in Canada and the US.”

 

How does the presence of a knowledgeable local guide impact the overall escorted travel experience?

According to both Kim and Naomi, a knowledgeable, local guide is, “essential!”

“The guides are the best and most important part of an escorted vacation,” says Kim. “Guides offer a wealth of knowledge on their country, culture and community. They also provide safe, enjoyable and fun travel experiences along the way.”

If that doesn’t say it all, we don’t know what does.

 

Are you planning a getaway? Do it the easy way — with the expert insight and connections of an experienced travel advisor. Our professional travel advisors are ready to help you plan an unforgettable escorted travel tour today!

Planning a Vacation? Discover the Benefits of Escorted Tours

September 11, 2019 |

Escorted tours are a popular way to explore new destinations and pursue dream vacations. However, it’s important to use knowledgeable guides who are thoroughly familiar with the local areas you’re visiting. 

If you’re considering travel tours as part of your next vacation, here are a few things to know about escorted tours before you go. 

 

What Are Escorted Tours?

Whether you’re dreaming about train journeys in Europe, safaris in Africa or a multi-country trek across Asia, escorted tours can be an enjoyable way to explore new destinations. What sets escorted tours apart are the guides who lead them. 

Our experienced travel advisors recommend travel tours from the best-escorted tour companies that feature knowledgeable local guides. This can make the difference between a lackluster tour that doesn’t provide much information beyond what you could glean on your own versus an escorted tour that shines with hidden tidbits and tiny details you never would have discovered on your own.

The top escorted tours let you experience a destination by immersing you in its local culture. The result of a good escorted tour is that at the end of your trip, you feel more like a global citizen and less like a tourist.  

 

Who Are Escorted Tours Right For?

Beyond local insight, escorted tours typically include all the flights, hotels/lodging arrangements, transportation transfers, most meals and much of the sightseeing opportunities. Basically, an escorted tour takes all the hassle and stress of making connections and planning decisions in a foreign place off your plate.

With the planning taken care of, you can focus on exploring and finding adventure every day. 

If you are interested in a vacation that takes you to multiple destinations with stays of generally two to three days at each location, an escorted tour may be right for you. Our travel advisors can talk through your travel goals and arrange the perfect escorted tour or another type of travel experience for you. 

 

Why Make Escorted Tours Part of Your Vacation?

Similar to a cruise, escorted tours allow you to take in the sights and sounds of multiple destinations. Instead of a long stay in just one place, escorted tours expose you to places you may decide to visit again on their own for a longer period of time. 

Escorted tours are usually faster-paced and take care of all the coordination and transportation details for you. This allows you the freedom to enjoy your vacation without worrying about getting yourself and everyone in your party where they need to be at the right time and with the proper documents, payments and other requirements. 

The best escorted tour companies, like the ones we work with, can also incorporate some free time or unscheduled time throughout the trip for you to explore destinations you find particularly interesting on your own. Sometimes, this is as simple as an afternoon free to shop or sightsee in the particular neighborhoods of your choosing; or having an evening free to try a new restaurant that sounds uniquely appealing to your party. 

 

How Can You Find the Top Group Travel Tours from the Best Escorted Tour Companies?

The best way to ensure you choose an escorted tour that delivers the dream vacation you’re looking for is to work with an experienced travel advisor who only recommends escorted tour companies that utilize knowledgeable local guides.

Are you planning a vacation? Get the expert assistance of someone with the experience and contacts to plan the perfect itinerary. Contact one of our experienced travel advisors today to begin planning your escorted tour vacation!

Luxury Travel Tips: When to Start Planning a Luxury Vacation

September 4, 2019 |

Luxury Travel Tips: When to Start Planning a Luxury Vacation

Luxury travel is all about you. Your dreams. Your unique style. Your passion for experiencing the world in exquisite and breathtaking form. Still, luxury vacations and experiential travel don’t just happen. It takes the insight and taste of a travel advisor skilled in planning upscale travel to make it all fall in place.

We asked our travel advisors common questions people have when planning luxury travel, like, “How far out should I book a luxury vacation?,” “When do you start planning luxury trips?” and, “What are some of the best luxury travel destinations?” so you can benefit from their experience planning luxury vacations for clients.

 

Luxury Travel Tips: When to Start Planning a Luxury Vacation

Travel advisor Lisa Salloum is a luxury travel specialist with years of experience planning unforgettable luxury vacations for clients. Here are her thoughts on some of the most common luxury vacation questions travelers ask.

 

What are some of the best luxury travel resorts or destinations?

“Some of the best luxury vacations take travelers to places they’ve never been before but have always wanted to visit; “bucket list” type of destinations. Personally, my favorite spots to coordinate upscale travel to include Africa, Thailand and the English countryside. The exact location really depends on what the individual traveler wants to experience. There are gems in almost every country!”

 

When should you start planning a luxury vacation?

I’ve booked luxury vacations with only a month’s notice for clients. However, the more time I have to perform advanced planning definitely affords me time to work on preparing some really special moments. The more I know about my client’s particular experiential travel interests, the better luxury trip I am able to set up.”

 

How far out should you book luxury travel?

“Similar to what I shared in my previous response, luxury vacations are maximized when you have more, as opposed to less, time to plan them. Still, luxury trips of all kinds and upscale travel to many destinations can be arranged in as little as one month’s time.”

 

What are some of the common pitfalls travelers should avoid when it comes to luxury travel?

“Some travelers want to book some components of luxury trips on their own, but this can cause issues when trying to create a seamless flow. As an experienced luxury travel agent, I’ve learned missteps to avoid that someone trying to book luxury travel for the first time might easily overlook. For example, overlooking a local holiday can surprise people and lead to a situation where there is no space to stay at a desired resort or enjoy a particular luxury experience. 

“I think it’s also important for travelers to share as much about their personality and preferences as possible with the travel advisor planning their luxury vacation. The more information I have, the better able I am to curate truly amazing experiences.”

 

What are the benefits of working with a travel advisor to plan luxury trips?

“(At Travel and Transport), we have some terrific connections throughout the world to assist travelers and help them enjoy amazing experiences everywhere their luxury vacation takes them. We also have access to special perks that allow us to expose travelers to unforgettable experiences they may not have otherwise known about. Curating incredible luxury vacations is what we do best!”

Adventure Through the Andes: Travel to Peru Takes Advisor on an Unforgettable Quest

August 28, 2019 |

Travel to Peru Takes Advisor on an Unforgettable Quest

Deciding to travel to Peru with G Adventures / National Geographic Journeys was one of the best travel decisions travel advisor JoAnna Gonseth has made. Adventure trips aren’t new to Gonseth, who loves exploring unique destinations. 

A native of upstate New York, Gonseth loves hiking through wooded areas and usually travels independently. Opting to travel to Peru with a group, as part of a Peru tour through G Adventures was a first, but definitely a choice she would make again. 

Here, Gonseth describes what it was like to travel to Peru, including what she learned and what she loved.

 

Travel Advisor Dishes on Peruvian Cuisine and Other Standout Experiences From Her Decision to Travel to Peru

How would you describe your trip to Peru in three or four words?

“Breathtaking. Legendary. Life-changing.”

 

What stands out about your trip to Peru?

“So many things. First of all, the cuisine. It was excellent. Absolutely everything was five-star, farm to table, organic and delicious. Every place we ate provided full service. From soups and appetizers to fish, steak and alpaca, the food was really great. 

Our G Adventure tour provided flexibility and structure so that we had freedom to try a few places on our own but also eat as a group. We even took a cooking class where we toured the local market to select our food, purchased the items and cooked the meal. 

One thing that stood out to me about Peruvian food besides its incredible flavor and freshness was the size of the corn. A single kernel was easily five times the size of a kernel of the Nebraska corn I’m used to seeing grown on farms back home. We learned through our tour guides that many things are grown in the mountains and sent down to Lima.

One of my favorite stops was taking a trip to the highlands of the sacred valley and meeting people who live in a village in the mountainous region. G Adventures partners with the Planeterra Foundation, an organization that focuses on helping local communities. In the part of Peru we visited, we met people from the rural community of Pampallaqta in Parque de la Papa (Potato Park), where they grow about 1,300 of Peru’s 3,000+ potato varieties. We learned about the importance of potato cultivation, how they weave local textiles and hand-dye lama and alpaca fur and the importance of both to Andean culture. The village was struggling before G Adventures and Planeterra got involved in bringing tourists up to learn about how the indigenous people there live. 

Just to hear them speaking in their native tongue to our guide, who would translate for us, was so very moving. Many tourists were moved to tears by this experience and it remains one of my highlights of the trip, which is incredible considering I also toured the Machu Picchu ruins and Aguas Calientes Hot Springs.”

 

Speaking of touring ruins of ancient civilizations, are there any Machu Picchu tours or Peru tours in general you recommend?

“Yes. G Adventures offers wonderful Machu Picchu tours. They include almost everything, but still leave some free time open for independent exploration. The tour I took — Explore Machu Picchu — included everything except tips for the drivers and guide, some lunches and dinners and minimal optional tour entry fees. With the money exchange rate in my favor, even purchasing the non-included items kept the cost reasonable. 

While we traveled to the Pisac ruins and the Ollantaytambo ruins, the Machu Picchu ruins were the main highlight of the entire trip and one of the main reasons I wanted to travel to Peru in the first place. Seeing the Lost City of the Incas up close was incredible!

The views and weather were perfect, making every single angle a perfect photo opportunity.”  

 

When is the best time to visit Peru?

“Peru has two seasons — wet and dry. The dry season is the best time to see Machu Picchu. The land turns green and warm in the wet season, making it an ideal time to surf and enjoy other water activities in lima. The best time to visit Peru really comes down to what your travel goals are and what you want to see. An experienced travel advisor can help you determine when the best time to travel to Peru is to see and do everything on your list.”

 

What is your advice for others who want to travel to Peru?

“I would highly recommend working with an experienced travel advisor to plan your trip to Peru. Someone who can help you select the perfect tour or plan the ideal itinerary for your vacation. There are just so many things you may not be aware of or account for when you plan entirely on your own.

“For example, the language was surprising to me. English is really not spoken in Peru. You need to speak Spanish and have the proper Peruvian currency. It’s not like traveling to tourist areas in Mexico where English is spoken. Tour guides speak English, Spanish and Quechua, the main indigenous language there. Without a guide who speaks all three, you’ll miss out on so much. 

“I’m an independent traveler and enjoy exploring on my own. However, G Adventures’ focus on smaller groups and an immersive, local experience was really eye-opening and enjoyable. I don’t know if I would adventure travel without them again. It was that good of an experience. 

“Beyond that, the simple conveniences of having your transportation arranged ahead of time and knowing that your hotel, tours and flights are all arranged for you, takes so much stress out of the trip. These are all benefits of working with a travel advisor. The reasonable fee for their time is well worth the value you enjoy while you’re on vacation. They can also help you decide what to ax from your potential itinerary and what to keep. In Peru, this is particularly important as it’s hard to accurately gauge the distance between locations and how long it takes to get from one tour stop to another until you’ve been there. It’d be very easy to plan more than you would comfortably be able to see in a day or a week without the assistance of an experienced travel advisor.”

 

Are you planning a trip to Peru? Get the expert assistance of someone who has been there and can help you plan the perfect itinerary. Contact JoAnna or one of our other experienced travel advisors today to begin planning your Peruvian vacation!

The Best Time to Visit South Africa and South America

August 21, 2019 |

The Best Time to Visit South Africa and South America

Surprisingly, the answer to when is the best time to visit South Africa and the best time to visit South America is exactly the same. 

It depends on where, specifically, you want to go within these vast, beautiful and diverse continents. The best time to visit South Africa or South America depends as well on what you want to do while you are there.

 

Is going on an African safari one of your lifelong dreams?

Our experienced travel advisors will tell you that the best months, generally speaking, for an African safari are September through October and March through April when temperatures aren’t quite so hot. 

 

Have you always wanted to celebrate Carnival in Rio de Janeiro?

If so, then the best time to visit Brazil is late February, when the famous festival is held. 

Whether you’re trying to find the best time to go to Africa or the best time to visit South America, the first step is to narrow down which country or countries, in particular, you want to visit. 

 

Best Time to Visit South Africa and South America

As we’ve covered, there’s no one best time to visit Africa or South America. Working with an experienced travel advisor is a great way to make sure you take your vacation at the ideal time. 

Our travel advisors have taken safaris and traveled throughout South America. They travel extensively so they can draw on firsthand experience to help you plan your dream vacation. They know not only the best time to go on an African safari but also the best places to take them. They also know the best time to visit South America, in part because they’ve been there, and in part, because they’ve been helping people plan dream vacations for decades. 

Here are some of their recommendations on the best time to visit South America and the best time to visit Africa:

  • Best time to visit South Africa: While South Africa is a year-round destination, like the rest of the continent, its seasons are opposite of North America’s. Fall is March through May and spring is September through November. The best time to visit South Africa comes down to what you want to do while you are there.
  • Best time to go on an African safari: Tanzania, Kenya, South Africa, Botswana and Zambia are all popular places to go on an African safari, but when you go makes a difference in what kind and how many animals you’ll see. August through October tend to be productive months, but working with an experienced travel advisor is the best way to narrow down the exact location and time to see the kind of animals you most want to observe.
  • Best time to see Zimbabwe: If you love wildflowers and want to take in all the flora Zimbabwe has to offer, December to May are the best months to visit.
  • Best time to visit Brazil: Outside of late February, which is the time to go to the Rio Carnival, best times to visit Brazil include April to June and August to October, when the weather tends to be cooler.
  • Best time to see Peru: The best time to see Peru is during its dry season, which is May through September, especially if you’d like to hike Machu Picchu or the Inca Trail. December to March can also be fun but will include frequent rain showers.
  • Best time to go to Argentina: Like South Africa, Argentina is a year-round destination. Winter is in July and August and features the coolest weather, however, it also tends to be most crowded then. Working with a travel advisor to plan your trip will ensure you get the most out of your vacation to Argentina.

 

Best Places to Visit in Africa and South America

Knowing when to go on an African safari is only one part of planning your dream vacation. Working with an experienced travel advisor is the best and easiest way to assemble an itinerary that fits your interests. Our travel advisors would love to help you explore the best that Africa and South America have to offer.

Contact one of our experienced travel advisors today to turn your dream South American vacation or African safari into a reality.

The Best Time to Visit Singapore and Other Asia Pacific Hot Spots

August 13, 2019 |

What’s the Best Time to Visit Singapore?

Any experienced travel advisor will tell you that the best time to visit Singapore and other Asia Pacific hot spots is during the dry season. That season may vary depending on which countries you visit. Literal southeast Asian hot spots like Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia are driest in November through February.

While it’s generally an all-year-round destination, the best time to go to Singapore is February through April. Other countries, such as island nations like Indonesia and Japan, are best seen in April through October and March through May, respectively.

All of this variance highlights the reality that the best time to visit Asia depends on where in Asia you want to go.

 

Best Time to Visit Singapore and Other Asia Pacific Destinations

As we’ve covered, there’s no one best time to visit Asia, at least not all of it. Working with an experienced travel advisor is a great way to make sure you take your vacation to Asia at the ideal time. 

Our travel advisors have journeyed extensively throughout Asia and know not only the best places to visit in Asia, but also the best times to see them. Here are our recommendations on the best time to visit Southeast Asia popular destinations:

  • Best time to go to Singapore: Really, any time is a good time to visit Singapore, but February through April tends to be a little drier.
  • Best time to visit Bali: Like many other places in southeast Asia, Bali has only two seasons — rainy and dry. April and October tend to be drier months, and therefore better times to visit.
  • Best time to see Japan: If you want to see Japan’s famed cherry trees in full blossom, the end of April is the best time to visit. Other excellent months include spring (March to May) and fall (September to November).
  • Best time to travel to Cambodia: Humidity can get quite high in Cambodia. Visiting during the drier months of November through April should bring some relief.
  • Best time to visit the Maldives: The best time to visit this island paradise is between December and April when it’s less likely to experience storms or adverse weather.
  • Best time to go to Tibet: Pleasant weather and warm, gentle breezes are typical of April through October in Tibet, so plan to visit then.

 

Best Places to Visit in Asia

Knowing when to go to Asia is only one facet of planning a vacation. Working with an experienced travel advisor is the best and easiest way to plan an itinerary that is both realistic and checks off all your boxes. Our travel advisors would love to help you explore the best food, hotels and sights in the best places to visit in Asia.

Contact one of our experienced travel advisors today to turn your dream vacation to Asia into a reality!

European Vacation 101: How a Travel Advisor Can Help You Plan a Trip to Europe

August 7, 2019 |

European Vacation 101: How to Plan a Trip to Europe

A European vacation is a dream for many travelers. Making that dream come true often comes down to proper planning, which is made much easier with the help of an experienced travel advisor. 

If you’re ready to embark on a European vacation, you likely have questions, such as when to go to Europe or how to plan a European vacation. Our travel advisors love helping people enjoy unforgettable European vacations. Here, we cover a few reasons for using our travel advisors to help plan a trip to Europe.

 

How to Plan a Trip to Europe — 5 Reasons to Work with a Travel Advisor

Traveling to Europe for the first time can feel overwhelming. Going into your trip prepared helps you avoid decisions that might detract from your enjoyment. Our travel advisors have spent years planning dream vacations to Europe for many travelers and know all the ins and outs of traveling to Europe. 

From knowing when to go to Europe to whether or not to take a cab from the airport and more, our advisors know how to make your European vacation a success. Here are five things we help travelers to Europe with every day. 

 

1. Our travel advisors help you decide where to go.

One of the most important factors in planning a trip to Europe is deciding where to go. Many of our advisors have traveled to Europe themselves and can make personal recommendations about cities and sights you’ll love.

 

2. Our travel advisors know when to go to Europe.

While you can go to Europe any time of year, we know that the best times to take a European vacation are in May, June and September, because prices tend to be more reasonable, weather is a bit better and crowds are thinner. These factors make those months an ideal time for a European vacation.

 

3. Our advisors tailor an itinerary to your personal priorities.

Based on what you want to see, our advisors put together a detailed itinerary with the ideal places to start and finish your trip as well as all the stops in between. With the perfect itinerary mapped out for you by an experienced advisor, you can relax knowing you’ll love every moment of a trip that has been tailored to your interests and priorities.

 

4. Our advisors make sure your passport and/or visa are valid.

Getting paperwork in order is one of the least glamorous aspects of planning a trip to Europe, but without the proper documents, your European vacation will never happen. Our travel advisors know that if you don’t have a passport, you need to allow four to six weeks from the time you apply to receive one and help you apply at the proper time. We’ll also check the expiration date of your passport or Visa to ensure it will still be valid during the time of your trip to Europe and, depending on which countries you visit, for at least six months after your trip is over.

 

5. Our advisors know when to recommend travel insurance.

While you might be tempted to write off travel insurance for your trip to Europe, our advisors know when it’s worth a second look. They help you see whether trip cancellation, flight cancellation or medical insurance makes sense for your trip. 

 

This list barely scratches the surface of the considerations involved in planning a trip to Europe. Get expert insight and care planning your European vacation. Let our travel advisors help you plan the trip of a lifetime!

What Fam Trips Are and How They Help Us Make Your Vacation Even More Amazing

July 31, 2019 |

What Fam Trips Are and How They Help Us Make Your Vacation Even More Amazing

Fam trips are one of the best ways for travel advisors to become more proficient in the field of travel. Fam trips, or familiarization trips, can be excellent opportunities for those who plan travel for others to get to know what various cruise, hotel, spa and flight experiences are like so they can make more educated recommendations to travelers. 

Far from a ‘free vacation,’’ fam trips are a lot of work, often involving long days and little free time. However, as our seasoned travel advisors understand, there’s simply no substitute for firsthand experience when it comes to travel planning. We send our travel advisors on fam trips so they gain the experience to make yours amazing.

Here’s what a few of our advisors have to say about what fam trips are and how they help them plan amazing vacations for others.

 

Fam Trips: How They Help Travel Advisors Plan Amazing Vacations

When travel advisors go on fam trips, they usually inspect every aspect of the experience so they can explain it to potential travelers and make recommendations based on the needs and interests of each person they help.

We asked two of our top travel advisors, Abby Bebout and Jenny Gilbertson, what they like about fam trips and what makes them worth the investment. 

“Fam trips allow advisors to experience what the client experiences when they travel,” says Bebout. “You tour properties to learn the ins and outs and sometimes even the behind-the-scenes, but you also experience the same food, service and amenities that a client would experience when traveling to that destination.”

Gilbertson adds that fam trips can help advisors improve the service they offer travelers. “Firsthand experience is the best way to learn the geography/location of the destination. After visiting a destination, it’s much easier to make satisfying recommendations.”

Cruise and resort fam trips are some of the best to take at improving the recommendations travel advisors can make because they allow advisors to experience the intricacies of those types of travel.

“Cruise and resort fams allow us to make a recommendation of what to do, where to go and how best to experience a specific ship or resort,” says Bebout. “Everything from being able to make a recommendation on what to order at the restaurants to who the best bartender is, or where to sit at the show for the best view are things that we experience during fam trips and can give feedback on first-hand.”

Gilbertson agrees, adding that seminars at sea provide an abundance of information on the cruising experience that can’t be gained any other way. “We usually tour the entire vessel as well as receive shore excursion information (and enjoy them like the travelers we help would), marketing ideas and the most current updates of the cruise line.”

 

What to Look for in a Fam Trip

Once travel advisors see the value in a fam trip, the next question becomes which fam trip to take. Our advisors say a good place to start is with places or experiences travelers are likely to desire or inquire about. 

“I like to experience fam trips based on what I sell and what is going to be beneficial to my clients,” says Bebout. “I would love to take every trip offered, but am I selling that destination or product? True experts are selective in what they choose to do and qualify trips based on experiences that will benefit those for whom they help plan vacations.” 

Gilbertson adds that small group fam trips or trips to places an advisor would not personally go can be beneficial. 

“I always look for a fam trip where I’ll experience what my clients look forward to. My idea of a fam trip is definitely NOT seeing ten properties in a day; visiting one to two with ‘experiences’ is what it’s all about,” she says. “Some of the most memorable fam trips I’ve experienced were an Azamara cruise from Barcelona to Roma and a visit to the Guanacaste region of Costa Rica.”

Travel advisors can maximize the value of fam trips by paying careful attention to specific things. “Take note of what’s included in the price, what transportation is provided and unique experiences you can share with clients upon return,” says Gilbertson. 

Bebout adds that being careful to evaluate everything will help advisors gain the most value from fam trips. “Keep track of what the flights were like and how the arrival process could have been easier. I can take a picture, but it’s likely the same picture that you can find online. What you can’t get from the website is how the service was at the resort. Another important thing to look at is room locations. What is the view like? Is there privacy? How close is the room next door? These are notes that a good advisor is taking to be sure they have all the information to pass along to colleagues and clients alike.”

 

Need help planning your next vacation?

Our experienced travel advisors would love to help you plan the perfect getaway. Reach out to us today!

5 Educational Vacations for Families

July 24, 2019 |

5 Educational Vacations for Families

Educational vacations help families learn while traveling. Some of the best learning is done when you can get out and explore areas of interest. If family travel means more to you than theme parks and relaxing, explore these five educational vacation destinations.

 

5 Educational Vacations for Families

The educational vacation destinations listed here will satisfy your craving for experiencing new and different people and places. Instead of exploring the world through a screen, you’ll get up close and personal with real life in different settings around the world.

 

1. Rome, Italy.

Rome, Italy | 5 Educational Vacations for Families

If ancient history interests you, family travel to Rome may be the best educational vacation destination for you. The Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, Pantheon and Pompeii are just a few of the historic sites your family will enjoy visiting in Rome.

 

2. Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia.

Colonial Williamsburg, VA | 5 Educational Vacations for Families

If you’re more of an American History buff, you’ll love visiting Colonial Williamsburg. A living museum that lets you experience life in 18th century America is just one of the things that makes this one of the best educational vacations for families. 

 

3. London, England.

London, England | 5 Educational Vacations for Families

Dive into the culture of the country that spawned America with an educational vacation to London. Tour classic sites like the Tower of London and Parliament Building, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre or Churchill War Rooms. Whether you see a show on London’s West End or take a Warner Bros. Harry Potter Studio Tour, there’s plenty of magic to experience in London.

 

4. Iceland.

Iceland | 5 Educational Vacations for Families

Revisit the ancient world of the Vikings with an educational trip to Iceland. See an exact replica of a Viking ship; go whale watching; visit Thingvellir Park, home to the first Parliament; and experience the captivating power of significant geological sites like Gulfoss and Langjokull, home to an amazing ice cave and Europe’s second-largest glacier.

 

5. Paris, France.

Paris, France | 5 Educational Vacations for Families

From well-known landmarks like the Eiffel Tower and Notre-Dame Cathedral to the Louvre Museum, Sorbonne and Arc de Triomphe, there is more to see in Paris than can be squeezed into one educational vacation. Take your family to Paris and experience the sites that interest you most for your next family vacation.

 

Why We Plan Educational Vacations

Educational vacations are one of the best ways to immerse yourself in a place. Whether you partake in a culinary tour of Paris, go on a guided hike through an ice cave in Langjokull or decide to explore a destination not listed here, family travel is made better, not worse, with an educational vacation. 

Let our travel advisors help you plan the perfect family vacation. Reach out now to discuss your next educational vacation.

Planning a Family Vacation?

July 17, 2019 |

Planning a Family Vacation? Our Advisors Share Top Tips

Travel Advisors Share What to Pack and How to Plan a Family Vacation

There’s a lot to consider when it comes to planning a family vacation. What should I pack? Where should I go? Is an international family vacation possible? These are all common questions travelers ask. Our travel advisors have decades of experience helping families plan unforgettable vacations. 

We asked them to share their best tips on planning a family vacation with you. Here’s what they had to say.

 

Travel Advisors Answer Questions About Planning a Family Vacation

What do I pack?

What to pack is one of the most common questions travel advisors are asked by people planning a family vacation. Tara Nielsen-Rise, a travel advisor out of Omaha, says to be comfortable and practical.

“Don’t bring new shoes you’ve never worn. Be sure to keep things to do and snacks in your carry-on when flying,” she says. “Planes can be chilly so throw something in the carry on to accommodate for that if needed. If you’re going somewhere warm, bring a couple of swimsuits. You will likely get in and out of the water during the day and it gives one suit a chance to dry.”

Emily Voorn, a travel advisor with experience planning family vacations adds that it’s important to keep the climate in mind. “Packing changes depending on what season you are traveling in and what the weather will be like there. As soon as I help families pick a date and destination, I start researching what to pack.”

 

How do I decide where to go?

As Voorn alludes to above, figuring out the best destinations for a family vacation can be a tricky process. She likes to start answering that question with a question. 

“I like to ask people to ponder their interests,” she says. “If you are looking for sunny weather, Disney World in Orlando, Florida and Disneyland in California offer some really great fun in the sun family packages. If you want something outside the norm, the Caribbean Islands offer some all-inclusive family options worth looking at. The Bahamas and Punta Cana are both appealing destinations.”

 

What if I want to plan an international family vacation? What do I need to know before I go?

Another common question is around planning an international family vacation. Nielsen-Rise says not to overlook the obvious, but important point. “Everyone will need a passport. Some destinations require visas and/or vaccinations.”

Voorn backs that up, adding to make sure visas and passports have an expiration date of at least six months past your planned return date. “It’s good to make photocopies of your passport, in case you lose them in travel and need to apply for new ones at a U.S. embassy.” Voorn also recommends visiting the State Department’s website to check for travel advisements or restrictions for the countries you’re visiting.

“Before you go, check the State Department’s website for information about vaccinations and travel permits. If both legal parents aren’t traveling, you may need authorization from the absent parent.”

 

Do I need travel insurance?

The question of travel insurance often comes up around visas and passports. It’s an important one, which Nielsen-Rise often answers, ‘yes.’ 

“You never know what could happen prior to, or during travel,” she says. “If you are traveling internationally, many U.S. health insurance companies don’t cover you so the medical coverage alone is worth it.”

Voorn adds that travel insurance can guard against many unforeseen events. “The benefits of protecting your investment would be highly recommended as most insurance policies have a cancel-for-any-reason clause and when you’re planning a year or more into the future, you can never predict what is going to come up.”

After all their years helping plan family vacations, our travel advisors say they’ve seen a handful of things get overlooked time and again.

“We’re all ambitious when we plan a family vacation,” says Nielsen-Rise. “Don’t try to cram too many things into your itinerary. Part of the fun for kids can simply be swimming at the hotel. If the schedule gets too full, the vacation becomes more about checking things off a list than just sitting back and enjoying the moment. Quality over quantity can never be underestimated.”  

 

Are you planning a family vacation?

Don’t plan it alone! Get expert insight from our experienced travel advisors on picking the perfect destination and itinerary. Let us iron out all the details for your next family vacation. Contact us now to get started.

Flying with Kids? Survive Your Trip with These Tips

July 10, 2019 |

Flying with Kids? Survive Your Trip with These Tips

Flying with kids can be rough. Toddlers are about as unpredictable as airline travel. Still, following these tips for flying with kids will make your journey more enjoyable. 

 

Tips for Flying with Kids

Whether you’re traveling with a toddler prone to surprise sprints across the airport or flying with children who hate leaving home, there are a few tips you can follow to make your trip a little less painful. Here are our best tips for flying with kids!

 

Make it Fun

This tip may be hard to implement if you hate flying, but aside from that, if you make flying fun, chances are good your child will find it fun too. Talk about your travel beforehand and all the fun you’ll have flying. Kids often find amusement in simple things, so don’t be afraid to talk up the snacks and drinks on the plane. 

 

Don’t Worry About Screentime

Especially for older kids, if you are typically judicious about how much screen time you allow your children to enjoy at home, they will find hours of entertainment in getting to plug in on their flights. Once the pilot gives the green light for turning on portable devices, bust yours out and let your kids play games or watch TV. Don’t forget the headphones so other travelers don’t have to play along with your kids.

 

Throw Routine Out the Window

Along with the above tip, don’t stress over your normal routines flexing a bit during travel. If your child wants to take a nap off-schedule or stay up when she’s normally sleeping, roll with it. Focus on getting from A to B with as little fight as possible. Besides, he may have trouble sleeping when you arrive at your destination, and if he’s able to snooze a bit on the plane, you’ll be thankful for it. 

 

Bring Plenty to Do (and Eat)

Along with tablets and devices, one of the best tips for flying with kids is to pack some snacks, books, coloring pages and other quiet activities to help your child pass the time.  

 

Pack Extra Clothes for Everyone

You never know when an accident is going to happen. Sometimes a clean shirt or pair of shorts can make mom and dad, as well as your little ones, feel a lot better. When you’re packing an extra outfit for your kids, remember to throw in an extra shirt for yourself. 

 

Put a Tag on That

When you’re busy putting tags on your bags at home or when you arrive at the airport, don’t overlook putting a digital tag on your child. Bluetooth tracker tags make it possible for you to know the exact location of your bags and your kids. While you never want to become separated from your child, knowing you can look at your smartphone and see where she is will bring much-needed peace of mind. 

Looking for more help flying with kids or planning your next vacation? Our travel advisors are here to help! Reach out today for assistance with your next adventure.

Best Family Vacation Spots for Your Entire Clan

July 3, 2019 |

Best Family Vacations — 4 Top Spots for Your Next Trip

The best family vacations are ones where everyone from grandma to junior come home happy. Finding the best family vacation spots can be tricky, so we’re serving up some of the top family vacation ideas for you to consider as you think through your upcoming trip. 

 

Best Family Vacations — 4 Top Spots for Your Next Trip

Family vacations are wonderful opportunities to make lifelong memories. Whether or not those memories will be happy ones sometimes comes down to picking the best family vacation spots. With decades of experience helping families find the perfect backdrop for making happy memories together, we’ve put together a list of some of the top spots for your next trip.

 

1. Yellowstone National Park, WY

Yellowstone National Park, WY | Best Family Vacations

While everyone else is flinging sweaty elbows at each other in line for rides at Walt Disney World, escape the chaos and rejuvenate your souls connecting with nature at Yellowstone National Park. There’s nothing like watching Old Faithful erupt or seeing magnificent wildlife up close and in living color. Whether you want to rough it in a tent or enjoy nature from the comfort of a cabin, you’ll find plenty for the entire family to enjoy at this American gem.

 

2. San Diego, CA

San Diego, CA | Best Family Vacations

America’s finest city may have earned that moniker for its beautiful beaches, but its cuisine, growing arts scene and proximity to Los Angeles make it one of the best family vacation spots for your next trip. Whether you want to learn to surf or sunbathe on the beach, you can do it all in sunny San Diego. From its world-famous zoo to its equally famous fish tacos, you’ll have fun making memories together here. 

 

3. Gatlinburg, TN

Nestled in the Smoky Mountains of eastern Tennessee, this town feels like it was made for families. From hikes of all difficulty levels to amusement parks and aquariums, there’s much here for people of all ages to enjoy. Spend one day browsing artisan shops, watching hand-blown glass take shape and then spend another drinking in the beauty of the outdoors.

 

4. Honolulu, HI

Do you want to feel like you’re exploring a tropical escape without needing a passport? Hawaii could be the perfect spot for your clan. Some of the best family vacations are had in Oahu. With an endless stream of things to do and see, just make sure you stop and spend some time feeling the sand between your toes. 

Want help planning your next family vacation? Our travel advisors have more amazing ideas for you to consider. Let us help you plan a vacation every member of your family will enjoy.